Monday, December 12, 2016

Ask Linda #1437-Ball moves after player addresses it and walks away

Linda , 
If a golfer addresses a ball and then backs away from his/her address position and then the ball moves after the time the player backed away from the address position, does the fact that the ball was previously addressed necessitate the one-stroke penalty and require the player to replace the ball in its original location even though the player was not in the address position at the time the ball moved?   
Lou from Texas

Dear Lou,

The answer in 2015 would have been “yes.” At that time, Rule 18-2b was still around. That Rule said basically that once the player addressed the ball, he could not “un-address” it. Even though the player walked away, he was still responsible for any movement of the ball after he addressed it (unless there were clear evidence that something else moved the ball, such as wind or rain).

Alas, 18-2b is no longer with us, and the answer to your question is more subjective. There is now a penalty if it is more likely than not that the player’s actions caused the ball to move, regardless of whether he had addressed it. For a more thorough explanation, replete with examples of how to decide whether the player caused the ball to move, please read Decision 18-2/0.5.

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